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Madame de Pompadour

Madame de Pompadour (December 29, 1721 - April 15, 1764) was the famous mistress of French King Louis XV of France.

She was born Jeanne-Antoinette Poisson in 1721. It is unsure which one her mother's lovers was her biological father. Her official father was forced to leave the country in 1725 after a scandal so she lived with her mother and sister. She was married young in 1741 to Charles-Guilaume Le Normant d'Etiolles, nephew of her legal guardian Le Normant de Tournehem. Contemporary opinion considered her significantly beautiful.

She caught the eye of the monarch in 1745. Group of courtiers, including her father-in-law, endorsed her to the Louis XV who was still mourning the death of his second mistress, the Duchess of Chateauroux. Jeanne-Antoinette was invited to a royal masquerade in February 1745 that celebrated the marriage of the king's son. By March she had become a regular visitor and King installed her at the Palace of Versailles. In July king made her marquise, had her legally separated from her husband and on September 14 she was formally presented in court.

He also bought her six residences. She seemed to be fond of rococo interiors. She also formed cordial relationship with the queen Marie Leszczinska.

Madame de Pompadour was an accomplished woman, who had a keen interest in literature. She had known Voltaire before her ascendancy and the playwright apparently advised her in her courtly role. Contrary to popular belief - and contemporary opinion - she never had much direct political influence. She did endorse duke of Choiseul to the king and reputedly supported French alliance with Austria. She also endorsed Diderot's project of Encyclopédie.

She also employed artisans, sculptors and portrait painters. One of them was the court artist Nattier, in 1750s Francois Boucher and later Francois-Hubert Drouais. She also learned to dance, engrave and to play guitar. She planned buildings like Place de la Concorde and the Petit Trianon with her brother the Marquis de Merigny. She also had pet dogs Mimi and Inés.

Pompadour suffered two miscarriages in 1740s and later in life arranged lesser mistresses for the king's pleasure. Although they did not sleep together after 1750, Louis XV remained devoted to her until her death in 1764 at the age of 43. At the time she was publicly blamed for Seven Years' War.